Writing for Comics 101 – Why One-Liners Are Not Enough

In today’s installment of Writing for Comics 101, let’s talk about why one-liners are not enough.

If you missed it, I wrote in last week’s installment about how to write good characters. Now, I’m going to let you in on a secret about how to write dialogue for characters:

YOU CANNOT FORCE A ONE-LINER.

Admittedly, this is more of a problem I see in people who want to get into superhero or shonen comics. Both genres are guilty of having characters talking (almost incessantly) on the pages during action scenes. This incessant talking is meant to lead into quote-worthy one-liners.

Don’t get me wrong. I love one-liners. Otherwise I would not love the movie Mystery Men as much as I do.

But here’s the secret about one-liners: They are rooted in the characters.

To have good one-liners, you need to have good characters. To have good characters, you need to know your characters REALLY well. As in, you should know the things I talked about last week. If you don’t, go back to the Word document.

But a story cannot be made of one-liners alone. You need to have connective moments. Even Mystery Men knew that.

So what you need to learn is how to write actual, believable dialogue between characters.

To make that actual, believable dialogue, you need to understand your characters backgrounds, wants, and fears.

And here’s the most important secret about making comics that few people talk about:

Sometimes, the best thing you can say on the comic page…is nothing.

Trust me: silence can say more in a story than any amount of dialogue ever could. Read Cairo and Asterios Polyp if you don’t believe me.

If you still have questions, let me know in the comments. I’m happy to help.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

West Virginia Pop Culture Con: ROUND 2!

My second year at West Virginia Pop Culture Con went SUPER FREAKING WELL.

Somehow Dave (my table buddy and Patreon patron) and I managed to get TWO table spots (don’t ask me how. I’m still baffled). I wasn’t prepared for the extra long table space, but now I’m getting ideas for how I want to do a two-table spread at future cons, if that ever happens again. Or even better – a corner spot.

This year was awesome, not just for me but for Dave, as well. It also went really well for Cheyenne, another art buddy! WV Pop Con is really the place to go as an indie creator, because the show focuses a lot on the creative talent. I don’t think there were any celebrities at this show, except (arguably) for the guy who’s currently working on the art for Scooby Apocalypse, Patrick Olliffe.

There was only one thing that did not turn out well at WV Pop Con, and that was the silent auction I had for the framed original inks and lines for “God.”

pagan god illustration

For one thing, I forgot the jar to slip bids into. Oops.

Not that it would have mattered, because there were only two bids placed on this baby – one bid was for $5. The other was for $7.

My minimum bid was $50.

So, not going to do the silent auction again. I kept the framed art piece because I am NOT selling off an original art piece measuring 11 by 17 inches WITH A FRAME for $7.

Just gonna’ mark it to $150 as a flat rate and take it to Comicon Erie (unless someone in Saint Clairsville, OH, Wheeling, WV, or Youngstown, OH REALLY wants it. In which case, leave a comment. Let me know).

On the more positive side of things, my profit margin was higher than last year because I lowered my cost on one major thing – a place to crash.

Last year I stayed at a hotel (La Quinta). This year I stayed at an AirBnB and saved myself an EASY $100.

Another thing – having a table buddy lowered my table cost. And it got Dave a place to showcase his work… which is good because it turned out that this was his best show as an exhibitor EVER.

Win-wins all around!

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

P.S. The AirBnB I stayed at had a 15-year-old cat named Splash. She is the sweetest ball of fluff I ever had the joy of holding and petting.

The Wonderful Resource that is Paper Cat Press

long haired black cat
I don’t have any ready-to-post sketches of cats, so have a picture of my cat Scarlet.

I wish I had known about this site back at the end of February, when I got laid off from my day job and transitioned to making comics and art full-time. It would have made life easier.

But at least I found it now!

Paper Cat Press is a handy dandy website that aggregates links and shares new ones once a week. These links are for…

  • Calls for Submissions
  • New KickStarter Campaigns
  • New Webcomic Debuts
  • Grants and Scholarships
  • Workshops and Residencies

And a whole bunch of other stuff, all geared specifically towards comics artists and illustrators! All I can say is…

THANK THE GODS.

So in case you couldn’t tell, I am currently on the lookout for new opportunities for comics-making work.

Don’t get me wrong – the KickStarter for the Validation buttons has finished up just a few days ago. We far surpassed the asking goal of $100 and got $826 in funding! Holy banana pants!

But that money is specifically for KickStarter stuff – for fulfillment of orders and printing up the buttons we were raising funds for (and a sketchbook we unlocked as one of the stretch goals). That money will NOT go towards bills or food until all the backers have their rewards. And that could take a little while.

So that’s why I’m REALLY glad for sites like Paper Cat Press. They’re going to make looking for a paid gig SO much easier.

The first thing I’m going to apply for is a grant. Why? Because I want/need to take a residency at a comics place in Pittsburgh so I can do on-location research for Traveler’s Road, the story of two ladies traveling through a post-apocalyptic United States to find a lost friend. The lost friend in this story is supposed to be in Pittsburgh. I don’t live in the city, so I would REALLY like to just take a weekend, stay there, and draw what I need for the story. The grant can cover room and board, and if there’s enough left over, gas and art supplies.

However, I DID find another, different micro-grant (it’s micro because the grant is less than $1000, the usual minimum given in a grant). This micro-grant is called the Cupcake Award, and it’s given in association with CAKE – the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo. I’ll try for that grant first.

Wish me luck!

Thanks for Reading.

You. Are. Awesome.

What I’m Reading At the Moment

Yes, this is pre-haircut me. I can barely tolerate the floppy hair in this video.

Today’s vlog is all about the books I’m reading at this point in time. However, I have added one new book since I recorded this episode: “In My Own Way” by Alan Watts. I’m almost done with that book, so I’ll be making a Review Day Tuesday of it soon!

So what are you reading right now? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Thanks for watching.

You. Are. Awesome.